Wednesday, March 28, 2007

If My Hotel Offers a Unique Experience, Why Can't My Home?

It's all over the web today: Hyatt Hotels has formed a partnership with U.K. digital music agency Audiosuite in which they will offer guests collections of destination-specific music. Hyatt is starting with properties in Arizona and Texas, and plans to roll out the new digital download program across North America and the Caribbean throughout 2007. Guests will be able to download the music in digital MP3 format and take it home with them. The music can also be heard and purchased via websites associated with each hotel - check out or The company will do marketing around the program, and will measure the program's success in by music downloads. Austin Business Journal, Marketing Daily, WebWire

:: Be Local, Add Value
Hyatt executives say the project evolved from a desire to find ways to add value and create more of a "sensory experience." But the music offering reflects a trend among premium hoteliers to make their properties seem local - a kind of anti-franchise movement in design and amenities that often focuses on sensations and non-tangible aspects of the experience that aren't necessarily obvious.

To the multifamily developers that aren't already thinking this way - you should be. Whether a renter or a buyer, nothing is more local to your resident than her home. The ability to customize to a location, to focus on things that will give the resident a sense of place, is very important these days. Much like evolving hotel chains, multifamily developers that used to build the same garden-style project wherever they went are now building mixed-use and transit-oriented communities that fit in with their locations a lot better.

:: Create an Experience
There are some great technology-based services out there for developers looking to create a music download arrangement like Hyatt's, from companies like Napster, Rumblefish, Grooveshark, Ruckus, and others. Be warned that multifamily doesn't usually fit in their regular business model, so it might take some trial and error before you find the right partner. There are also some unique ways emerging that allow residents to acces their favorite tunes from Internet radio services through devices that can be placed in units or in a property's common areas.

But sound is just one of the senses - what about an on-demand server or movie download service for those that are more visually stimulated? Many leasing offices have offered small movie libraries for years, just take this idea a step further. Smell? Gadgets now waft scents on command that are designed to create a specific reaction in the mind of the "sniffer." Would your prospect feel more at home during a property tour if the air of the model unit was filled with the scent of a fresh-baked apple pie? Possibly. Taste? I haven't come up with one for that yet, but you get the idea.

A resident's experience will determine whether that person ultimately decides to renew his lease and refer one of his friends to your property. Making technology personal and easy to use will enable you to create unique service opportunities that will go a long way toward a great overall experience.

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